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Forsberg and Esche Lead Flyers Past Blackhawks

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(Philadelphia, PA, October 30, 2006) – Peter Forsberg scored twice and Robert Esche made 26 saves as the Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wachovia Center on Monday night, 3-0.

Philadelphia led 1-0 for most of the game, before Forsberg's second of the night gave the Flyers a two-goal cushion.

It was a great single effort for the Flyers' captain, as Forsberg went around Sharp and cut to the slot before he slid a backhand along the ice past Brian Boucher at 11:57 for a highlight reel tally.

Simon Gagne's empty-net goal with 28 seconds left capped the scoring.

Esche turned in his strongest performance of the season in getting Philadelphia's first shutout against Chicago, which has not scored in over three games now. The Blackhawks outshot the Flyers 15-5 in the second period but Esche answered them all including a couple of lunging stops on Radim Vrbata with the Flyers down a man late in the frame.

"Any time your goaltender can make big saves and keep time in the hockey, it gives you a chance to regroup and keep your confidence, and that is exactly what he did tonight, especially during the second period," said John Stevens. "He kept them off of the board and give us a chance to regroup."

"I felt really good. I was seeing the puck really well today," said Esche. "Obviously, we all know our team played phenomenal, so it was pretty easy playing behind them."

The Flyers stormed out of the gates, and registered 11 shots on goal in the first 4:32 of play, but former Flyer Boucher stopped them all including impressive saves on Geoff Sanderson and Kyle Calder during a Philadelphia power play.

Their 12th shot ended up on the scoreboard, however, when Stefan Ruzicka stole the puck along the offensive zone boards from defenseman Brent Seabrook and fed Forsberg skating towards the net. Forsberg made a nifty move to his backhand and slid it past Boucher at 7:25.

"He did some really great things tonight and obviously he carried us offensively," said Stevens of Forsberg.

"There were definitely a lot of good things tonight that we need to bring to the next game," said Forsberg.

Philadelphia went on an extended power play early in the third, including 1:08 of time with a two-man advantage when Craig McDonald joined Michael Blunden in the penalty box at 2:30. The Flyers appeared to get a goal by Jeff Carter but it was whistled dead by the official before crossing the goal line. The Flyers were 0-for-6 with the power play and killed off all three Chicago advantages.

Denis Gauthier made a key defensive play when he dove to knock the puck away from Sharp who was racing through the Flyers' zone with less than 12 minutes left. Sharp barely missed tying the game later when his redirection attempt sailed just high moments before Forsberg's second tally.

The loss was Chicago's fifth in a row, while Philadelphia has now won two of its last three games.

Philadelphia wraps up its homestand with games on Thursday against Tampa Bay and Saturday vs. Washington. Both games begin at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet.

Freddy Meyer and Randy Jones were inserted back into the lineup after being scratched for the previous two games. Alexandre Picard and Lars Jonsson did not play. Former Flyer Michal Handzus, acquired by the Blackhawks in exchange for Calder over the summer, is out for the season with a knee injury. Also out for Chicago are goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Martin Havlat. Mike Knuble missed his first game as a Flyer after playing every game last season, as he recovers from a broken finger.
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